Conference Paper

Water Budget of Field Experimental Cells with Vegetated and Non-Vegetated Soil Layers Placed on Waste Rock

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Abstract

Field investigations were conducted in Abitibi region (Northwestern Quebec, Canada) from the end of July until the end of October 2017 and allowed to study the influence of the vegetation and the compaction of the supporting soil layers on the water balance of a waste rock pile. To do so, 5 lysimeters were constructed in a dike made of waste rocks and 4 of them were covered of 40 cm of overburden and 10 cm of topsoil. Overburden of Lys-1 and Lys-3 were compacted while fast-growing willows were planted on Lys-1 and Lys-2. Soil water content was monitored with sensors in the topsoil and the overburden as well as percolation through the waste rock. Results show that evapotranspiration is the main component of the water balance for all lysimeters with soil covers (58-87%). Soils layers decreased the cumulative percolation through waste rock by at least 30% and lysimeters with compacted soils showed a reduction of 57-58%. Plants increased the evapotranspiration rate during and slightly after rainfall by up to 8 mm/6 hours. Thus, vegetation and compaction of the supporting soil layers can significantly influence the relative contribution of the water balance components and the system dynamic.

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... Subsequently, it was assumed that 30 % of the total rainfall remains in the soil forming recharge, while the remainder is released back to the atmosphere via evapotranspiration. This distribution was selected based on a first-order approximation for temperate climates (Chevé et al., 2018). Evapotranspiration was removed from the soil as a boundary flux across the surface, uniformly distributed over 10 days following a precipitation event. ...
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